Τετάρτη, Απριλίου 27

Japanese Do South Park!

Hebdomada Magna et Sancta

Sorry for not blogging as often as I ought, but I've been truly snowed under with music and errands!
'
Here's the last week in point form:

  • Election of Pope Benedict XVI (in case you hadn't heard). Here's a little article which explains my glee at the frustration of the liberals.

  • Lunch with Fr John Lundberg from New York, who is chaplain on occasion at Mel Gibson's private chapel in California. Fr John is on his way through London to Dublin to spend Byzantine Holy Week and Pascha with Fr Serge Keleher, my spiritual father. Lunch at Fakhreldine, near Green Park, was excellent. We took a stroll down to Westminster Cathedral, where we spotted two women in the piazza holding up a banner that said 'Catholic Women's Ordination'. Naturally, we had a wonderful time heckling them. Honestly, if they think they don't need the male priesthood - why on earth do they need male bishops ordaining them? I'm informed they already have women-only 'Masses'. Why then do they need ecclesiastical approval and ordination? It's a status thing. I'm tempted to get my college's Catholic Society to go stand in the piazza right across from these two women, with a banner saying 'Catholic Pets' Ordination' or 'Catholic Coffee-Tables' Ordination' or something like that. Heh. These women have stopped being Catholic - could they please just LEAVE.

  • While at the bookshop next to the Cathedral, I heard a youngish man come in and ask 'excuse me, do you sell rosaries here?'

  • Introduced Fr John to the assorted nuts at Corpus Christi, Maiden Lane, where the Latin Mass Society have their regular masses. We had a sung mass on Thursday for vocations, followed by a Te Deum in thanksgiving for the new pope. Hurrah!

  • Fencing last Tuesday was good - had my first lesson on Sabre on the same day, so my legs really really really hurt, but in a good way!

    I'm going up to Dublin tomorrow with Andrij - we're spending the great last few days of Great and Holy Week and Pascha there. This should be fun - three priests and a bishop (Kyr Hlib from Rome, no less)... and 2 chanters who've been preparing music in multiple languages (English, Ukrainian, Slavonic, Greek, Latin, Romanian, Arabic, Armenian...). As you will understand - blogging will be very very occasional while I'm in Dublin.

    Oh, by the way, I made this recipe for some friends on Annunciation (when we're allowed fish) - Miso-Glazed Salmon. If you haven't tried it, TRY IT!

    Here's a song about Pope Benedict XVI, to be sung to the tune of the Mickey Mouse Club song!

    CNS STORY: L.A. cardinal says pope might reform process for Synod of Bishops: "Cardinal Mahony also said the cardinals gathered inside the Sistine Chapel during the conclave were treated to wafts of smoke every time the door to the stove was opened to add more ballots.

    Austrian Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna told an Italian newspaper, 'It's a good thing there were no art historians inside' to see the smoke drift up to Michelangelo's recently cleaned frescoes."

  • Κυριακή, Απριλίου 24

    An evil quip

    Just heard from Alexander Armstrong on BBC 1, commenting about the current Pope, about a German speedily occupying territory recently occupied by a Pole.

    HA!

    Σάββατο, Απριλίου 23

    www.popetoast.com

    Τετάρτη, Απριλίου 20

    Cardinals and Compact Disc Players

    Soundtrack: Tu es Petrus by Palestrina, sung by the Choir of Westminster Cathedral.

    La Stampa said that some cardinals, expecting a lengthy conclave, had packed compact disc players in their bags along with prayer books. I'll bet some cardinals had mp3 players.

    I should so love to have seen those playlists!

    I bet Mahoney had Metallica or something.

    HABEMUS PAPAM: DEO GRATIAS!

    Ratzinger as Benedict XVI! Heretics, watch out!



    Wail and gnash your teeth, ye liberals and heretics!

    Roma, Roma über alles!

    It's still Lent for me, but I'm raising a glass of Bailey's in joy... Once Lent is over, I'm having a meal of beer and sausages to celebrate!

    Imagine Obktoberfest in the Vatican... cool!!!

    We now have a fierce German Shepherd guarding the church - those little liberal chihuahuas and poodles don't stand a chance!

    I'm going to sing a Te Deum now!

    Δευτέρα, Απριλίου 18

    Pope-U-Lator

    From the Curt Jester:

    Here is another new site in preparation for the conclave. Pope-U-Lator

    Roman Catholics believe that when the 115 guys in red socks go into the secretive Conclave, they will be guided by God Himself in their election of the new Pope. Since there are 1.1 billion Catholics on the planet, there are two questions that will fascinate the world in the next few days. Who will be elected as the new Pope? and What name will the new Pope select for himself?

    Fill out the short questionnaire on the Pope-U-Lator and five Papabiles are shown based on your criteria. I got Cardinal Arinze ad #1 in response to mine.

    There is also the Name-U-Lator to let you choose a papal name. If you choose progressive agenda you get:

    Look. Why don't you people give up?

    If you want priestesses, gay marriage, contraception, abortion, euthanasia, a 4th person in the Divine Trinity or whatever floats your boat, just join a Protestant Church.

    If you want to stick with plain old Christianity, you are going to have to face the fact that the Pope is the guardian of the Deposit of Faith. He can't just make up a new dogma when he feels like it. He can't ordain ladies, nor can he reverse the constant Church teaching against contraception and abortion. It's just not going to happen.


    Quite right. All those who want women priests, gay marriage, abortion and so on... please, do all of us a favour and just leave the Church. The Church's teachings aren't a democracy.

    The Curt Jester also points out 'What is with the strange linkage of women's ordination and abortion? That you want the right to kill a human being in your womb at the same time as to have the right to confect the Eucharistic elements. That you want the dignity of being a priest of God at the same time that you would denounce the dignity of the unborn child created by God.' A very palpable hit!

    Incidentally, I was considering possibile names for the next pope - something obscure would be fun. Agathangelos or Khananishu perhaps? Some nice eastern name, I think.

    It be fun if the Greek Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople were made Pope. COnsidering Moscow and Constantinople are constantly in rivalry, it'd give Alexei of Moscow a heart-attack. Moscow keeps pushing for greater honour on account of them being the biggest Orthodox church, but if Bartholomew were made Pope, he'd have over a billion faithful in one fell swopp, and Bartholomew can then thumb his nose at Alexey, which would amusing.

    On a more serious note, Turkey keeps giving the Orthodox Patriarchate grief and is trying to force the Patriarchate to move and leave Turkey. Damned Turks. Now, if the Turks keep trying to boot the remnants of the Roman Empire out of their land, it might be appropriate for the Patriarchate of New-Rome to return to Old-Rome, after some 1600 years. I rather like that idea - it has a certain romantic appeal to it.

    Pro Eligendo Pontifice & a round up of the week

    'For the Election of a Pontiff' is the title of today's post.

    Last monday, I headed down to Corpus Christi, Maiden Lane, to sing at a Solemn Latin Tridentine Requiem for the soul of the late Pope John Paul II. Upon getting there, I was told that there was a professional choir, and as such, the 'usual lads' weren't needed. I therefore put on a cassock and cotta and became one of the 4 torchbearing servers - a total of 8 servers in all.

    The priest who played deacon arrived with two rather young looking clerics, who seemed about mid-20s, and wore very old-fashioned cassocks with knapsacks. He introduced them to the Monsignor who was to sing the mass, as 'two priests from Campos'. Oh my. That explains a lot. If you're a Trad, you'll know what/where Campos is. If you're not... you probably won't care. I, being an ex-Trad, found it quite fascinating, and had a short conversation in a mix of Latin and Italian (their Latin wasn't perfect) with the two after Mass

    Simon & I had a drink and a meal (with another drink afterwards), and we had a very illuminating conversation about the people who go to the Monday evening Tridentine Mass. We both agreed that the Mass draws all types, and that both of them went to it very much for the sake of seeing the assorted lunatics and nuts and watching their antics at drinks/dinner following. Rather much like going to the zoo, really. I won't go into detail, as that would be uncharitable, but it appeared to the both of us that many Trads find 'doctrinal purity' or 'liturgical correctness' as an easy substitute for actually behaving as Christians ought to, and loving one's fellow man.

    Fenced on Tuesday, which was fun! As of Wednesday, Glenn has moved into a free room in the house, and will be living here over the summer as he takes private violoncello lessons prior to starting his course at Trinity College of Music this autumn.

    Had an interesting Wednesday - lunch with Fr Jim Tucker of Dappled Things fame. We exchanged stories and anecdotes, had many laughs and strolled around the Victoria & Albert Museum, commenting on things. An excellent afternoon, to be sure. He was passing through London on his way to Fatima, so I was very fortunate !to have had the pleasure of his company

    Then popped over to the Russian Cathedral to sing at Matins - Thursday being the Thursday of the Great Canon of St Andrew of Crete. The Canon was read in its entirety - absolutely stunning. It truly is the most beautiful work of penitent poetry ever written.

    Andrij, Arsen and I were at the Greek Cathedral of the Holy Wisdom (Hagia Sophia) on Friday evening for the service of the Akathistos Hymn to the Mother of God. I was there and not at the Russians because the Greek chants sung at that service is particularly beautiful, and I know most of it by heart. So there we were, and the service was appropriately impressive. Had dinner with Andrij afterwards - a fasting Chinese meal.

    On Saturday evening there was an interesting departure from the Typicon at the Vigil - instead of the Canon to St Mary of Egypt, we sang the Akathistos Hymn to the Mother of God - in English. Liturgically slightly dodgy, but beautiful nonethelss.

    Found one of the rare idiomela for Royal Hours on Great Friday - I've been looking for this for years, hooray!

    Have been having a bit of a craving for Thai Green Curry last week. That packet of sauce from Sainsbury's turned out awful, so I picked up a tub of Green Curry paste from Chinatown. The tub's from Thailand, and made for the domestic market there, so I figured it had to be good. Yeah. On reaching home, I read the instructions - 'fry 4 tablespoons of curry paste with 1 can of coconut milk'. I had no coconut milk, so i substituted it with soy milk. I was silly enough to add DOUBLE the amount of paste. OH LORD, it was hot. I went out that very evening to pick up a can of coconut milk, and added it to the unbearably hot curry, simmered it for a bit... and the result was LOVELY!

    Today (Monday) marks the start of the conclave to elect a new Pope - hence the title of this post. The mass that the cardinals said at the beginnning of the election is the mass Pro Eligendo Pontifice, and that's exactly the mass that we're having tonight at Corpus Christi - it should be quite interesting! Naturally, I'll either be singing or serving (I'll bring my Russian cassock).

    Incidentally, if you ever hear of the term 'Supreme Pontiff' and wondered what it is, it's one of the Pope of Rome's official titles. It's a direct translation of the Latin Pontifex Maximus, meaning High Priest, the highest priest of Roman religion and official head of the college of pontifices. As the chief administrator of religious affairs he regulated the conduct of religious ceremonies, consecrated temples and other holy places, and controlled the calendar. During the time of the empire, and until Christianity became firmly established, the emperor was designated pontifex maximus. The Pontifex was not simply a priest. He had both political and religious authority. After the supremacy of Christianity, the popes assumed the title.

    So yes, it's originally a pagan title. I've always considered it to be a silly, silly title, not merely because it's a pagan title, but also because Pontifex comes from pontem faciens, which means 'bridge-maker'. Uh, yes. An title with roots in Roman civil engineering. How silly is that? For years I've been saying the Popes of Rome should drop this silly title, but reflecting on the pontificate of John Paul II, it struck me that bridge builder was a wonderful description of what he spent his years doing. No one has done as much as he has, and he certainly worked very hard at making peace and building bridges. Perhaps in that one man, the title is appropriate.

    Requiesce in pace, summe pontifice! Rest in peace, Supreme Pontiff, and pray for us to God that a worthy successor may be elected.

    Παρασκευή, Απριλίου 15

    Lawful Good Elf Bard Paladin

    I Am A: Lawful Good Elf Bard Paladin


    Alignment:
    Lawful Good characters are the epitome of all that is just and good. They believe in order and governments that work for the benefit of all, and generally do not mind doing direct work to further their beliefs.


    Race:
    Elves are the eldest of all races, although they are generally a bit smaller than humans. They are generally well-cultured, artistic, easy-going, and because of their long lives, unconcerned with day-to-day activities that other races frequently concern themselves with. Elves are, effectively, immortal, although they can be killed. After a thousand years or so, they simply pass on to the next plane of existance.


    Primary Class:
    Bards are the entertainers. They sing, dance, and play instruments to make other people happy, and, frequently, make money. They also tend to dabble in magic a bit.


    Secondary Class:
    Paladins are the Holy Warriors. They have been chosen by a God/dess to be their representative on Earth, and must follow the code of that deity, or risk severe penalties. They tend towards being righteous, but not generally to excess.


    Deity:
    Oghma is the Neutral Good god of knowledge and invention. He is also known as the Binder of What is Known, and is the Patron of Bards. His followers believe that knowledge reigns supreme, and is the basis for everything else that is done. They wear white shirts and pants, with a black and gold braided vest, and a small, box-like hat. All priests of Oghma are known as Loremasters. Oghma's symbol is a scroll.


    Find out What D&D Character Are You?, courtesy ofNeppyMan (e-mail)

    Δευτέρα, Απριλίου 11

    Japan's Imperial Arrogance

    Japan hasn't learned its lesson. It's still producing sanatized textbooks, whitewashing the evil of its past, and when another country protests, Japan acts as if it has been wronged and demands an apology.

    Friendly Green Stuff

    An American friend of mine went to a party last night. There, sushi and tortilla chips were both being served. He took a chip and, seeing a bowl of freindly green stuff, took a great big scoop. It was NOT guacamole. He tells me that the pain was intense.

    *snigger snigger*

    I don't think I could ever mistake Wasabi for Guacamole - the colours are too different!

    Catching Up

    Sorry guys, will be catching up with blogging soon... I know I've been bad...

    Don't know why I'm so exhausted.

    Sang liturgy yesterday from 1030-1330, walked around the afternoon, did a bit of book shopping, sang vigil from 1730-2030... then hung out with friends till 3... Gee, that makes 6 hours of singing...

    Slept in till 1100 today, served lit at Holy Family, bought a book at an open-air market next to Green Park (and ended up playing a game of chess with the bookseller)... then fenced for 2 hours... hung out with more friends till 7 or so, and now I'm back, after having a home-cooked supper.

    Russian Choir and the Panikhida at the Pope's Funeral

    As some of you may know, I've been busy singing services at the Russian Orthodox Cathedral, where I've joined the choir. I'll tell you... sightsinging music I've never seen before, and in a slavonic text I've never seen before... is a real challenge.

    First level of difficulty has to be when I sightread unfamiliar music with familiar English texts - that's not too bad.

    Next comes unfamiliar music with familiar Slavonic texts (various settings of the Cherubic Hymn, for a start).

    Then comes familiar music set to a slightly different English translation - I have to be extra careful at the beginning of the Cherubic Hymn, which in various translations goes We, who mystically represent the Cherubim, We, who in a mystery represent the Cherubim, Let us, who mystically represent..., Let us, who in a mystery represent.... I swear it drives me up the wall.

    Then comes familiar music that I know to a certain language, and now having to sing it in a different language - the different textual underlay and musical arrangement can be treacherous.

    Then comes unfamiliar music to an unfamiliar English texts.

    Then unfamiliar music to unfamiliar Slavonic texts - I don't read Cyrillic all that fluently at high speed.

    Worst of all is when one gets unfamiliar Slavonic texts with wiggles indicating the shape of the melody. If it's a melody (tone) that I know, I'd already know the harmony and my bass part. If it's a melody/tone I don't know or don't know well... aaaack. Then couple that with having to read the unfamiliar text written in Cyrillic at high speed. STRESS!!!

    But it's all good - I'm learning and it's keeping my sightreading skills up to scratch. After all, I'm no longer in a choir where I have to sightread challenging music regularly - so this should be good.

    Yevgeny, the choir master, seems quite happy to have me, for even though I'm almost never there for Sunday Liturgy, I'm almost always there for weekday services and Saturday evening vigil. That's because he always has plenty of singers for Sunday Liturgy, but very few for the other services. Yesterday was a Saturday commemorating the departed, and I thought it might be a good thing 'karma'-wise to help sing at Liturgy in the morning. Yevgeny looked so happy to see me - as it turned out, I was the only Bass - there were 3 sopranos, 3 altos, 2 tenors and me. Fortunately, I'm pretty loud, and it sufficed. Yevgeny has also asked me to join a Russian male-voice choir he conducts - Russian choirs are famed for low basses, and my lowest note is a C, one note short of the lowest note written for basses - the low B flat at the end of the Nunc Dimmittis by Rachmaninov.

    Naturally there was a Panikhida (short memorial service for the departed) after the liturgy. Incidentally, an abbreviated Panikhida was what the Eastern bishops did at the Pope's funeral on Friday. As no one I know seems to have the proper text of what was done at Rome, here it is:
    Troparia in the 4th tone

    Choir: With the spirits of the righteous give rest, O Saviour, to the soul of Thy departed servant, John Paul, and keep him in the blessed life with Thee, O Lover of man. In the place of Thy rest, O Lord, where all Thy Saints repose, give rest also to the soul of Thy servant for Thou alone art the Lover of men.

    Glory to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit:

    Thou art the God Who descended to hell and loosed the chains of the captives. Give rest, O Lord, to the soul of Thy servant.

    Now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen:

    O only pure and immaculate Virgin, who without seed didst bear God, pray to Him that their souls may be saved.

    Litany of Fervent Supplication

    Deacon: Have mercy on us, O God, according to thy great mercy, we pray Thee, hear us and have mercy.

    Choir: Lord, have mercy (Thrice)

    Deacon: Again let us pray for the repose of the soul of the departed servant of God, John Paul, and that he may be pardoned all his sins, voluntary and involuntary.

    Choir: Lord, have mercy (Thrice)

    Deacon: That the Lord God will assign his soul to where the Just repose.

    Choir: Lord, have mercy (Thrice)

    Deacon: The mercies of God, the Kingdom of Heaven, and the forgiveness of his sins, let us ask of Christ, our immortal King and our God.

    Choir: Grant this, o Lord.

    Deacon: Let us pray to the Lord.

    Choir: Lord, have mercy.

    Priest: O God of spirits and of all flesh, Who hast trampled down death, defeated the devil, and given life to Thy world. Give rest, O Lord, to the soul of John Paul Thy servant, in a place of light, in place of green pasture, in a place of revival, whence all pain, sorrow and sighing have fled away. Forgive every sin committed by him, in thought, word and deed, in Thy goodness and love for men, O God. For there is no one who lives without sinning: Thou alone art without sin, and Thy justice is eternal justice, and Thy Word is Truth.

    For Thou art the Resurrection, the Life, and the Repose of Thy departed servant, O Christ our God, and to Thee we send up glory, with Thy Eternal Father, and Thy all-holy and good and life-giving Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages.

    Choir: Amen.
    Normally this is followed by:
    Deacon: Give rest eternal, O Lord, in blessed repose, to the soul(s) of Thy departed servant(s), and make their memory eternal.

    Choir: MEMORY ETERNAL. (Thrice)
    but as it was Eastertide in Rome, the Easter version of this was done - this Easter hymn sung thrice at the beginning and the end:
    Christ is risen from the dead,
    Trampling down death by death,
    And upon those in the tombs bestowing life!

    In Greek, Χριστος ανεστη εκ νεκρων, Θανατωι Θανατον πατησας, και τοις εν τοις μνημασι ζωην χαρισαμενος. Which in transliteration is Khristos anesti ek nekron, thanato thanaton patisas, ke tis en tis mnimasi zoin kharisamenos.
    The full text of an Orthodox/Byzantine Rite Panikhida may be found here.

    Just some random facts on the eastern bit of the Pope's funeral (if there are things or words you don't understand, do a google):

  • The language of the chants was Greek, for the most part, as being a sort of neutral-language of the Eastern rites. I'm surprised there wasn't any Slavonic used, as the greatest number of the Greek-Catholic faithful are of the Slavic rites.

  • The choir that sang this bit was the choir of the Greek College in Rome.

  • The deacon who led the litanies is an Italo-Greek monk from Grottaferrata Monastery, outside Rome.

  • The hierarch who did the censing was His Beatitude Stephanos II Ghattas, the Coptic-Catholic Patriarch of Alexandria- the senior Catholic Patriarch present. The vestment he wore, which looked like a western Cope, is called a Phaino, and is the direct counterpart in the Oriental rites to the western Chasuble or the Byzantine Phelonion/Phelon.

  • Patriarch Stephanos was easily spotted - the only fellow vested in white in a sea of red vestments. This is easily explained - the Coptic rite only has one colour of vestments - white. As those of us who are religion-geeks will know, the basic vestment common to all baptised Christians is the white alb/sticharion. One imagines that the monks of the Egyptian Desert did not own several sets of vestments, and hence they would have used white all the time. The Coptic rite is directly derived from the prayers of these simple Desert Fathers, and hence is more monastic in character than any other rite. The Copts have kept to that one colour, white, but permit vestments of white and gold/silver on solemn occasions, or even entirely of gold/silver, but these remain, in theory, mere variants on white.

  • The hierarch who read the prayer O God of spirits and all flesh was His Holiness Gregory III Laham, the Melkite Greek-Catholic Patriarch of Antioch. His full title is Patriarch of the cities of Antioch, Alexandria and Jerusalem, of Cilicia, Syria, Iberia, Arabia, Mesopotamia, Pentapolis, Ethiopia, of all of Egypt and the entire East, Father of Fathers, Pastor of Pastors, Bishop of Bishops, the Thirteenth of the Holy Apostles and Judge of the World.

  • Patriarch Gregory is an Arab. The Melkite patriarchate is Arab in identity, and Arabic is their liturgical language, which explains why he switched to Arabic for the last line For Thou art the Resurrection, the Life.... I imagine the mahometan dignitaries attending got quite a shock to hear Arabic chanted that day in praise of Christ. Priceless. I'm even more certain that it had not been agreed upon with the Latins organising the Mass that he would chant do anything in Arabic, and that the Italians got quite a surprise.

  • The Indian hierarch who wore a dark red heart-shaped hat (looking like something out of Alice in Wonderland) was His Beatitude Varkey Cardinal Vithayathil, Major Archbishop of the Syro Malabar Church (one of the remnants of St Thomas the Apostle's preaching in South India). The colour of the Holy Spirit in the Syro-Malabar Church is pink, hence the pink edging on his Phaino.

  • The hierarch seated to the left of Patriarch Stephanos of the Copts was noticed by commentators for his beautiful red and gold brocade vestments. I couldn't figure out who he was until he stood to the right of Patriarch Gregory of Antioch during the Panikhida, wearing a mitre of obviously western design. This was Nerses Bedros XIX Tarmouni, Patriarch of Cilicia for the Armenian Catholics.

  • There were a number of clerics (both among the Orthodox non-participants and Catholic participants) who held small hand-crosses (about 6 to 9 inches long). These were variously members of the Coptic, Ethiopian, Armenian and Syrian rites. This is used for blessings, by touching the head of the person being blessed with the upper bit of the cross. If I recall correctly, a priest or a bishop in these rites must not appear without a cross in hand, and can be severely disciplined if he does not have it with him. Several explanations are given for this: that the cleric must remember to 'take up his cross'; that it reminds people that this is a cleric; to remind the cleric not to talk nonsense.

  • Many commentators had no idea what was going on, and fantasized sheer nonsense in an attempt to impress the audience, saying these were the Orthodox doing their thing (not wrong, but not quite right either).

    Any questions? Do ask - I'll do my best to answer.

  • I am Bismuth

    Bi... Bismuth
    You scored 68 Mass, 42 Electronegativity, 49 Metal, and 10 Radioactivity!

    Ever wonder where the name Pepto-Bismol came from? You. You exist
    within the gray area between metals and non-metals. Personality-wise
    you are inflexible in your approach to problems, and you are prone to
    giving on everything when one thing gets rough... you may give up, but
    you don't walk away, and eventually you'll try again. You are a social
    element, but you have the tendency to let entire groups of friends
    lapse or disintegrate over time only to build them up again later. You
    might get along pretty well with Mercury or Lead. Of course, you might
    get along well with something else. You're actually kinda strange... I
    mean, look at you. Those are some freaky shapes you're forming.



    My test tracked 4 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
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    Κυριακή, Απριλίου 10

    I am a d12



    I am a d12


    You are the rare, the overlooked, yet incredibly useful dodecahedron: the d12. You are a creative, romantic soul. You often act without thinking, but make up for your lack of plans with plenty of heart. You easily solve problems that stump others, but your answers tend to put you into even deeper trouble. You write long, detailed backgrounds for all your characters, and are most likely to dress up as one or get involved in cos-play. You can be silly at times and are easily distracted by your own day dreams, but are at the end of the day you're someone who can be depended on.

    Take the quiz at dicepool.com

    Σάββατο, Απριλίου 9

    Papa Sepultus Est. K + M + B

    So the Papal funeral is over. I've not been so teary and wet-eyed for the longest time. If anyone wants me to post my thoughts on the funeral, let me know and I shall - mostly eastern things though.

    As I was walking along Warren Street, on the way from home to the tube station recently, I noticed this on the door of one of the houses along the way:



    Which struck me as being rather curious - I'm sharply observant and hopelessly thick at random, so this was a good day. K + M +... and a letter smudged. Suddenly I thought B. Kaspar, Melchior and Balthasar - the names of the Magi (sometimes called the Three Kings) of the New Testament who visited Christ as a child and brought gifts of myrrh, frankincense and gold.

    And I thought 'Hmmmmm'. I remember reading about this somewhere, and that this was a Central European (German, Polish, Czech e.t.c.) and Baltic custom... that it had something to do with Epiphany. A web search found the following:
    Chalk, gold, and myrrh were blessed in church and the letters KMB separated by crosses were written with blessed chalk on all doors of the home. In some parishes the priest or the organist came to write the letters. The custom of blessing the symbolical gifts of the Magi persists to this day, and boxes containing a piece of white chalk, some golden juniper berries and a thimbleful of myrrh may be obtained from the altar boys in some parishes, from a local druggist or by mail from Buffalo where a prominent Polish druggist puts up greater quantities of them each year. But the writing of the letters K+M+B is rapidly passing away. One still sees them occasionally but then only on one door, not on all doors as in former times. In most homes, however, the inscription is lacking entirely. An aunt of the author in Buffalo, a very devout woman, who was brought to this country as a child of two, confessed that she writes it but in such a place that it may not be seen by scoffers-on the narrow, top edge of the door, facing the ceiling, where, indeed, only the eye of God can see it.
    How very quaint and charming! There... that's your Catholic-geek info for today!

    Τετάρτη, Απριλίου 6

    Teresa Teng and British Green Curry

    Vernon found 4 Teresa Teng cds ripped on his computer, and has no idea how they got there. After listening to them, he said 'thank goodness Chinese pop doesn't have a retro movement!'

    TOO RIGHT!

    So as I'm blogging this, I'm nibbling on a curious lunch of my own making. Green Curry with rice. Not that strange, is it? Well, it is when you get into the details.

    First of all, I'm using Japanese sticky rice (grown in California, of all places). Incidentally, all the rice-growing regions of Italy, from whence Arborio and Carnaroli rice for making risotto comes, now also grow Japanese sticky rice to cater to the Japanese expatriate market - the packets and labels are almost entirely in Japanese. I would've missed the origin had I not looked closely and noticed Prodotto d'Italia on it. Fascinating.

    AAAANYWAY back to the sticky rice I had at lunch. It worked quite well with the Green curry, I thought.

    Problem was the Green Curry. It was a Courgette & Mushroom Green Curry, which as far as the Courgette and Mushrooms were concerned, was quite good. Unfortunately, the Green Curry sauce came out of a packet from Sainsbury's. 'Made in South-East Asia for Sainsbury's', the packaging states. I should've realised it was made for the average Brit - it's positively tasteless. The colour's a tad pale, but there's no kick at all. Somebody call the police - the chillies have been kidnapped!

    Now I'm suspicious of the other packet of sauce from the same range that I picked up - Malaysian Lime & Coconut Gravy. Probably made for the British palate. And with as much flavour as a notepad. Bah. I must stop grocery shopping when I'm hungry.

    Next time I want green curry, I'll make it with a pot of green-curry paste from Thailand - they're stocked by the Chinese grocers in Chinatown.

    Voyager!


    Voyager

    80%

    The Next Generation

    75%

    Deep Space Nine

    60%

    Movies

    50%

    Enterprise

    40%

    Original

    15%

    You scored as Voyager. Star Trek: Voyager would be best for you


    Which Star Trek Series is best for you?
    created with QuizFarm.com

    WHAT??? WITH A WOMAN IN THE DRIVER'S SEAT???

    Δευτέρα, Απριλίου 4

    Please Tell Me It Ain't So

    The National University of Singapore spends its research money on THIS KIND OF CRAP???

    Did they HAVE to use the word 'fondle'? Why not 'pet' or 'stroke'? Engineers... illiterates, all of them.

    And they say there's a crisis in the humanities? Ha!

    I just KNOW someone's going to turn it into a sex toy idea.

    Κυριακή, Απριλίου 3

    Euge bone serve et fidelis - intra in gaudium domini tui


    John Paul II - Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Jesus Christ, Successor of the Prince of the Apostles, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, Patriarch of the West, Primate of Italy, Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Roman Province, Sovereign of the State of the Vatican City, Servant of the Servants of God.

    1920-2005


    With the Saints, give rest, O Christ, to the souls of Thy servants, where there is no pain, no sorrow, no sighing, but life everlasting.

    O God, who of thy unspeakable providence didst vouchsafe to call thy servant John Paul to the number of thy High Priests: grant, we beseech thee that like as he did fulfill on earth the office of thy only-begotten Son, so he may evermore be numbered in the fellowship of them that have served thee faithfully. Through the same, Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord. Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

    3rd Sunday of Great Lent: The Precious & Life-Giving Cross

    O Lord, save Thy people, and bless Thine inheritance, granting to Orthodox Emperors victories over the barbarians, and protecting Thy commonwealth by Thy Cross

    Σώσον Κύριε τον λαόν σου, και ευλόγησον την κληρονομίαν σου, νίκας τοις βασιλεύσι, κατά βαρβάρων δωρούμενος, και το σον φυλάττων, διά του σταυρού σου πολίτευμα.

    Спаси Господи, люди Твоя, и благослови достояние Твое, победы православным
    христианом на сопротивныя даруя, и Твое сохраняя Крестом Твоим жительство.




    O Christ our God, of Thine own will Thou didst accept Crucifixion, for the common restoration of humankind. Taking the reed pen of the Cross, out of love for man, in the red ink of royalty with bloodied fingers Thou didst sign our absolution. Forsake us not, who are in danger once again of being parted from Thee. Take pity on Thy people in distress, for Thou alone art longsuffering. Rise up and fight against our enemies, as Thou art all-powerful. (in Byzantine times, only the Emperor signed in red ink)

    Hail, life-giving Cross! the fair Paradise of the Church, Tree of incorruption that blossoms for us with the enjoyment of eternal glory. Through thee the hosts of demons are driven back, the companies of the Angels rejoice with one accord and the congregations of the faithful keep the feast. Thou art an invincible weapon, an unbroken stronghold; thou art the victory of kings and the glory of priests. Grant us also now to draw near to the Passion of Christ and to His Resurrection.

    Hail, life-giving Cross! unconquerable trophy of the true faith, door to Paradise, succour of the faithful, rampart set about the Church. Through thee the curse has utterly destroyed, the power of death swallowed up, and we are raised from earth to heaven: invincible weapon, adversary of demons, glory of martyrs, true ornament of holy monks, haven of salvation bestowing on the world great mercy.

    I realise the Slavonic text I have above has 'granting victory to the Orthodox Christians over their adversaries' (as is usually sung these days in English and Slavonic) instead of 'granting victory to the Emperors over the Barbarians' (as in the Greek original, still sung today, as well as the English translation I provided - anyone who wishes to give me the original slavonic text with its reference to 'Imperatoru(!) Nashemu' is very welcome to do so, as I'm quite handicapped at typing in Cyrillic!

    Σάββατο, Απριλίου 2

    10 stories that could be pranks - but aren't

    Off the BBC site:

    1. A Japanese inventor has devised solar-powered clothes which can top up the battery on an iPod or mobile phone.

    6. A Belgian police training manual which aims to help recruits understand body language has caused a row by likening George Bush's facial expressions to a chimpanzee's.

    Full list here.